Hodgson's back now pains others

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Cody Hodgson is cutting out one key part of his offseason hockey training regimen the past couple of years -- London.

The Vancouver Canucks first rounder and last season's CHL player of the year won't return to the Dave Gagner-owned training centre at Western Fair this summer and hasn't visited the facility since he began recuperating from a back injury that cost him five months of his hockey season.

"There are a lot of good trainers in Toronto," the 19-year-old said Friday. "I won't be working out with Mr. Gagner."

Hodgson will play his second game since returning to the Brampton Battalion lineup tonight against the Knights at the JLC. He had two assists in 18 minutes of ice in his season debut Thursday against Erie.

Gagner, the former Knights assistant coach, is now the Canucks' director of player development. He believes Hodgson's decision to stay close to home was in the skater's best interest.

"We talked about it, of course, and we're in total agreement," Gagner said. "Cody's in Markham so it's quite a commitment to come to London. Last year, he was down three days a week and staying at our house but I don't live in London anymore."

Gagner recently moved to Vancouver. Son Sam, an Edmonton Oilers forward, has a house in Oakville and daughter Jessica is playing for the Dartmouth Big Green in Hanover, N.H.

"I want, obviously, what's best for Cody," Gagner said. "He's a hard worker. This isn't a dictatorship. You offer suggestions and it's up to them to decide what fits their needs."

Hodgson will be a handful for the Knights and the OHL -- if he remains healthy. He gives low-scoring Brampton a big boost.

"We're a different team," said Battalion GM-coach Stan Butler. "Cody's presence gives us a huge boost but it's not just that. It's his leadership off the ice, too. We have a young 16-year-old goalie from London, Jacob Riley, who likes to stretch after practices and Cody is kind enough to wait around and drive him home after he's done."

Butler said he's only seen one other player work as hard as Hodgson in the weight room -- Boston Bruins blue-liner Zdeno Chara, when he was coached by Butler in Prince George, B.C.

"I have total respect for that guy," said Knights defenceman Michael D'Orazio, who played minor hockey with Hodgson.

"My family has a cottage in Haliburton about five minutes down the road from him and I remember going to his place and he had all kinds of sticks laid down and he was stickhandling around all of them."

Ryan Pyette is a Free Press sports reporter.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca


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